Your 2018 calendar of world festivals

Gion Matsuri (Dreamstime)


JANUARY – International Kite Festival

Where: Gujarat, India

Why: For such a graceful sport, Ahmedabad’s Kite Festival (7–14 Jan) is rather merciless, as hundreds of competitors compete to scythe each other’s strings. It’s a dazzling sight, with the local bazaars and street food worthy of exploration between bouts.

Image result for International Kite Festival

Also pencil in… Fire festivals! In the Shetland Islands of Scotland, Up Helly Aa (30 Jan) sees Lerwick’s locals go full Viking, crowning a torchlit parade with a burning longboat. But that’s nothing compared to Nara in Japan, where a whole mountain is set alight for Wakakusa Yamayaki (Jan 27).

FEBRUARY – Carnaval de Oruro

Where: Bolivia

Why: Carnivals are everywhere in February, from Rio to Venice. But few can match the Bolivian city of Oruro (3–13 Feb) for sheer devilry. Here, Uru folklore and Christian ritual merge over ten-day festivities, culminating in a 15-hour parade of demons and cueca dancers on the last Saturday.

Also pencil in… Ice festivals! Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival (5–12 Feb) is a frozen delight, as the city’s transformed by sculptures, while the huge ice palace of China’s Harbin Snow & Ice Festival (until 25 Feb) is equally retina popping.

MARCH – Holi Festival

Where: India

Why: The spring festival’s (1–2 Mar) roots are in the north. Mathura in Uttar Pradesh is a great base – no one escapes the gulal (powdered paint) here, with spray guns dousing all in a weeklong party. Nearby village Phalain also hosts a bonfire where priests prove their devotion by trotting over hot coals.

Also pencil in… Yap Day (1–2 Mar) sees the islands of Greater Yap, Micronesia, celebrate all things local. This takes the form of feasts and lots of dancing, with routines performed often just once then retired forever. It’s also manta ray mating season in Yap Lagoon – a thrilling sight in itself.

APRIL – Songkran

Where: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Why: Keeping dry during Songkran (13–15 Apr) is impossible, especially in Chiang Mai. The Thai New Year is all about water: throwing it, spraying it, squirting it. It’s essentially a religious cleansing festival (Buddha statues are paraded and washed), but it’s also immense fun for visitors.

Also pencil in… On the 15th day of the third lunar month (usually April), parades, floats, priests and dancers (known as Centipedes) take to the streets of Taiwan’s big cities (particularly Hseuhchia), to mark the day of the God of Medicine.

MAY – Cinco de Mayo

Where: Puebla City, Mexico

Why: Celebrating a failed 19th century French invasion, Cinco de Mayo (5 May) is mostly celebrated in the Puebla region – the site of the battle. Here, re-enactments as well as floats, mariachis and margaritafuelled locals keep the Puebla City rebellion going into the night.

Also pencil in… Bruges’ Procession of the Holy Blood (10 May) – a reliquary captured during the Crusades and kept in the Belgian city’s Basilica – is some 700 years old, and a sight to behold.

JUNE – Inti Raymi Festival

Where: Cusco, Peru

Why: If you’re in Cusco for June 24, the Inca Festival of the Sun will be re-enacted at the Sacsayhuaman ruins in a compelling nine-hour ceremony. The preceding days of street parties lighten the mood considerably.

Also pencil in… The highlight of the Spanish Batalla del Vino Festival (27–30 Jun), held in the vineyards of Haro, is when a giant wine-throwing fi ght breaks out on 29 June

JULY – Gion Matsuri

Where: Kyoto, Japan

Why: A remnant of an ancient purifi cation ritual, Gion Matsuri lasts the month, but the main procession on 17 July is its highlight. In the run-up to it, expect food stalls after sunset and the chance to wander the huge fl oats before they invade the streets.

Also pencil in… Sporting festivals! Spy rodeos at Canada’s Calgary Stampede (6–15 Jul); wrestling, racing and archery at the Naadam games (11–15 Jul) in Ulan Bator, Mongolia; and taut muscles at Turkey’s Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival in Edirne (2–8 Jul).

AUGUST – Mount Hagen Show

Where: Papua New Guinea

Why: This sing-sing (festival) began in the 1960s as a way for tribes of the Western Highlands to connect; now its plumes and painted faces form a noisy cultural blow-out, with tour operator off ering front-row seats (18–19 Aug) to this di_ cult-to-reach event as part of a broader itinerary.

Also pencil in… Feria de las Flores festival (1–10 Aug) sees the Colombian city of Medellin blossom, with the Desfi lo de Silleteros parade of huge fl oral arrangements at its centre.

SEPTEMBER – Hermanus Whalewatching Festival

Where: South Africa

Why: The Western Cape’s famed for its land-based cetacean-spotting. So, when southern rights arrive in Hermanus’ Walker Bay (late Sep), they’re greeted by the blowing kelp horn that signals the opening of street stalls and parties.

Also pencil in… Gondoliers light up Venice’s Grand Canal for the Regata Storica (2 Sep) in the build-up to the city’s main stroke-off : the regatta itself. Think the University Boat Race in drag!

OCTOBER – Vegetarian Festival

Where: Phuket, Thailand

Why: Not as benign as it sounds. This festival (mid Oct) of purifi cation sees Phuket’s Chinese community engage Dreamstime in masochistic feats of piercing (often quite gruesome) in an event believed to date back 150 years, to a band of malaria-stricken Chinese minstrels, who then purged themselves healthy.

Also pencil in… Sky-high festivals! Mongolia’s Golden Eagle Festival (6–7 Oct), held in Bayan-Ulgii, sees young eagle hunters fl aunt their skills; or head to Albuquerque, USA, to behold the fi lling skies at its International Balloon Fiesta (7–15 Oct).

Day of the Dead, Mexico (Dreamstime)

NOVEMBER – Day of the Dead

Where: Mexico & Guatemala

Why: Dia de los Muertos (2 Nov) is now a worldwide fi xture, but Mexico is its heart: for a trad take, Janitzio Island sees the Purépecha people perform rituals late into the night, while the city of Oaxaca throws in a nighttime carnival. But the most eye-catching event is held in a cemetery near Lake Atitlán, as homemade kites (up to 30m wide) are launched into the sky.

Also pencil in… Bhutan’s Blacknecked Crane Festival (11 Nov) coincides with 300 of these elegant birds returning to winter in the Phobjikha area, accompanied by plenty of folk rituals and celebrations.

DECEMBER – Junkanoo

Where: Nassau, Bahamas

Why: Think Mardi Gras with a dash of Carnaval, all given a Bahamian twist. Junkanoo (26 Dec & 1 Jan) dates back to a slave holiday of the 1700s; today, it’s a wild party that continues over Boxing Day and New Year’s carnival parades in capital Nassau.

Also pencil in… India’s Hornbill Festival (1–10 Dec): dozens of Nagaland tribes descend on Kisama village for music, games… and lots of rice beer.


Happy New Year hope you all have a wonderful 2018


Win the ultimate school trip with Jet2holidays

The lucky winners of the competition will travel to Sol Katmandu Park & Resort in Majorca to hang out with Dick and Dom on an all-expenses paid school trip. How ridiculously cool is that?

An incredible nine school classes will win a long weekend away (Friday 20th April – Sunday 22nd April 2018) in Majorca and 45 schools will each grab £1,000 worth of school equipment vouchers.

To enter the competition, pupils have been challenged to submit their own unique ideas on how to promote Sol Katmandu Park & Resort however they want, be it poster, poem, song, video or something else.

The judges include Dick and Dom, who will create a shortlist of 45 schools from Jet2holidays’ nine airport regions and then, from there, each entry will be put to a public vote.

The winners will be  announced on 13th March, but all 45 shortlisted schools will receive £1,000 worth of school equipment vouchers. So no matter what, every school will be a winner!

For more details and info on how to enter visit Jet2holidays – entries must be submitted by Wednesday 28th February 2018.

You can check out more about the amazing Sol Katmandu Park & Resort here, and get a taste of some of the amazing activities the kids will get up to along with taking part in fun educational workshops with celebrity hosts. The workshops will focus on science, history, drama and crafts – with that list is almost makes me wish I was back in school

In addition to an educational trip of a lifetime the winning classes will also get to experience a bunch of other amazing treats including VIP send offs at the airport, a welcome dinner with celebrity guests and the ultimate school disco and show.

Good luck!


Win a seven-night hotel stay in the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena in Austria

Enter the prize draw for the chance to win a stay for two people at a four-star hotel in this charming region in the Austrian Tirol

Located on the Zugspitze, on the Austria-Germany border, the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena consists of six family‑friendly ski areas. The perfect location for a winter holiday with the family, the Arena offers plenty of options for visitors of all ages.

Each ski area can be visited using a single lift pass, with the majority of lifts located close to accommodation in each village. Visitors are able to choose from a number of runs, with local buses and trains connecting all the areas.

Away from the slopes, there is plenty of fun to be had. Enjoy weekly shows featuring fireworks and snowboarders jumping through fire, torchlit walks, ice skating and tobogganing.

Foodies are in for a treat too. Feast on locally produced meats, cheeses and honey in traditional mountain huts or enjoy a guided tour of the Stadl-Bräu craft brew house in Berwang.

The Telegraph, in partnership with the Austrian National Tourist Office, is giving away a seven-night stay for two at a four-star hotel in the Tiroler Zugspitz Arena.

For the chance to win this amazing prize, complete the form below by midnight on Thursday 30 November 2017:






You only need to sign in to participate and be in Benidorm on the 16th November 2017

This year we have incredible news about the famous annual British Fancy Dress.
BENICONNECT AND SERVIGROUP HOTELS, with the collaboration of Benidorm Seriously are
giving away a 5 night stay for 2 people in one of the BENIDORM SERVIGROUP HOTELS.
Included is a free Beniconnect return “Express Connect Transfer” too.

Who can participate?
All those who have correctly subscribed in the registration form and are present in
when the winners will be announced.



You must be over (18 years) to participate, in this free draw.

Servigroup, Benniconect and Benidorm Seriously employees, their families and those living in the same household may not participate in this contest.
How can you participate?
By correctly filling out all fields of the official registration form which is only published in Servigroup Hotels website

There are two prizes which consist of two stays of 5 nights for two people on half board in
any of our hotels (except Hotel Servigroup Montíboli). Included is a free Beniconnect return
“Express Connect Transfer” too.
Note: All stays subject to availability and reservations must be made before 31st January
2018 for stays from 1st January to 18th December 2018 (except from 1st May to 30th
September 2018).
Prizes include a stay at the hotel, half board. (except Hotel Servigroup Montíboli).
How the winner of the draw will be chosen?
From all of the registrations collected up to 14.00 hrs on the Fancy Dress Party Day on 16th
November, the winner will be drawn by automated random selection.
Duration of the draw.
The possibility of signing up in the Servigroup Hotels website will be available until 16th
November at 14:00hrs.
When will the winners of the draw be announced?
The results will be published on the Facebook pages of Servigroup Hotels, Beniconnect
and Benidorm Seriously and the winners will receive an email with the incredible news!
The prize will be presented on 16th November 2017 at the Hotel Servigroup Orange. The
winners must be in Benidorm on that day to collect the prize.
In the case that the winner is not present to collect the prize (previously announced by
email and in the corresponding Facebook pages) it will be declared void.


Information & Bookings (+34) 965 855 900 / From UK: 0845 094 2449


Win x2 tickets to the Team GB Ball 2017

We are giving away two bronze seats for our illustrious Team GB Ball which takes place at the V&A in London on 1st November 2017. A special evening where our guests come together with Olympians past and present to enjoy a three course meal, an exclusive and personal Q&A with athletes and a live performance from a very special artist.


Win a 6-night luxury holiday to Sri Lanka worth £8000 

Win a 6-night luxury holiday to Sri Lanka worth £8000


We’ve teamed up with Quintessentially Travel, the luxury tailor-made travel specialist, to give you the chance to win a 6-night holiday to Sri Lanka, the land of serendipity.

Discover crumbling ruins and ancient monuments in dense jungle, sail on a journey of a lifetime from Weligama Bay to spot magnificent whales, meet day-old turtles at Kosgada, step back in time with tea plantation tours or live out your dreams of meeting rescued elephants.

Starting in the south of the teardrop island at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort, you will experience one of the best new hotels, as voted by Condé Nast Traveler US’s prestigious 2017 Host List. A naturally exclusive hideaway nestled amidst a 21-acre coconut plantation, it is the only resort to be set along a secluded stretch of Sri Lanka’s southernmost coastline. While here, you can make the most of the signature Anantara Spa, a sanctuary within a sanctuary where their trusted ancient therapies will heal, de-stress and re-balance you.


Journeying west to Anantara Kalutara Resort, located on the peninsula between the ocean and Kalu Ganaga River, the winner can experience the local charm of Kalutara, a coastal and historic town just 10 minutes from the resort and home to the world’s only hollow Buddhist shrine. Take advantage of the impressive menu of activities on offer; drift on a traditional “The Oruwa” sailing vessel during a fishing trip, take the plunge with a range of water sports or slow down and reconnect with yoga.

The Prize for two includes:

  • Return economy flights from London Heathrow or Gatwick airport to Colombo
  • Roundtrip airport transfers from Columbo Airport
  • Three-night stay at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort in a Premier Ocean View Room with breakfast
  • A complimentary dinner at Journeys Restaurant
  • 25% discount on Spa Treatments Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort
  • One-way transfer between resorts
  • Three-night stay at Anantara, Kalutara Resort in a Premier Ocean View room with breakfast
  • A complimentary dinner at Olu Restaurant
  • 25% discount on Spa Treatments at Anantara, Kalutara Resort

Source: Win a 6-night luxury holiday to Sri Lanka worth £8000 – Jazz FM

Win a holiday to Turkey worth £90,000

We’re giving away an incredible five-night holiday to Turkey‘s Bodrum Pensinula. Set on the Aegean Sea, the coast is a glamorous playground of seaside towns, golden beaches and hillside villages filled with bougainvillaea. The winner and a guest will stay at the five-star Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum, in a luxurious Mandarin Villa – it has a private terrace and pool, a sauna, steam room and fitness suite – with breakfast and a three-course dinner included each day.

Located in Paradise Bay, the hotel has two private beaches and enough restaurants and bars to eat somewhere new each night. A gourmet dinner at the hotel’s Bodrum Balikcisi is part of the prize. Other added extras include a private tour of the Bodrum Peninsula on a traditional Turkish gulet, a Reformer Pilates class followed by a 90-minute Mediterranean Journey and Aegean Calm body massage in the hotel’s spa, and return flights from London Gatwick to Milas, Bodrum’s local airport, where return transfers will be provided.

For more information on the Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum, visit

This competition closes on 30 September 2017. For more holiday competitions, visit our competitionspage. 

To enter, click here to see a photograph of a mystery destination. Read the clue and see if you can identify the location in the photograph, then type your answer back on this page, into the space below.

Competition terms and conditions




To celebrate the start of the new school year, Ni4kids has teamed up with British Airways to offer one lucky pupil the chance to win a £50 shopping voucher for themselves and a £250 Apple Store voucher for their class to spend on technology equipment.


We all know that saving every penny counts when it comes to family holidays, so leading global airline, British Airways is delighted to share its ‘Kids Go Free’ offer with Ni4kids readers.

British Airways is working in partnership with some of the UK’s biggest airports, including George Best Belfast City Airport, on an exciting campaign to offer free flights for up to two children under 12 who travel with one full paying adult until 31 October 2017 – including on flights between Belfast and Heathrow.

The partnership means up to two children can fly for free when travelling with an adult, even during the school holidays! It can be used on Euro Traveller tickets booked until October 1 for travel until October 31.

British Airways offers passengers up to five flights a day from Belfast City Airport to London Heathrow and all flights arrive into Terminal 5, British Airways’ flagship Heathrow home. The airline also provides connectivity for local passengers to British Airways’ extensive global network of over 140 destinations worldwide from London Heathrow.

Flying kids for free will make it cheaper to fly away for fun and see more of the UK and Europe. Find out more, including all terms and conditions, and book online at


Colour in our British Airways ‘Kids Go Free’ picture and you could win a £50 shopping voucher and a £250 Apple Store voucher for your class. Your design will be entered into the competition and one winner will be selected from all entries received. Schools will be contacted directly to coordinate the prize.


Competition closing date: 5pm Friday 20 October 2017.

British Airways Art Competition, c/o Ni4kids, Unit 5a, Channel Wharf, 21 Old Channel Road, Belfast, BT3 9DE

Win bespoke play equipment for your child’s primary school

Want to be the most popular parent in the playground? To celebrate the importance of outdoor play, Germolene is offering Mumsnetters two chances to win a set of incredible play equipment for their child’s primary school – worth a whopping £5,000 – plus six outdoor family games vouchers from Toys R Us worth £125 each

To support childhood development, Germolene Antiseptic Cream* is working with The Wild Network, a charity which encourages children to roam free and play wild. The Wild Network has created a community of organisations involved in making meaningful change to putting children in touch with nature. Their role is to provide more opportunities for outdoor play.

Outdoor play is an essential part of childhood development. The results of a new survey by Germolene (1) show the vast majority of parents (95%) recognise the many benefits of outdoor play, including physical exercise, social interaction and the development of cognitive skills. 72% of parents believe that experiencing occasional cuts and grazes during outdoor play is an important factor in childhood development.

However the survey also found that only 56% of children nowadays have the opportunity to play outside after school every day. That compares poorly with the experiences of their parents – 80% of whom said they enjoyed all manner of outdoor adventures when they were young. It’s clear that more needs to be done on getting kids out in the fresh air.


Need more convincing? Germolene have rounded up some of the top reasons to get your kids outdoors:

Growing self-awareness

Outdoor adventures will develop a child’s understanding of healthy risk, helping them become more self-aware. Learning their limits and strengths will teach kids how to make decisions for themselves. All of which means parents should try and control those protective instincts and remember that the odd bump or scrape along the way is all part of growing up.

Boosting creativity

One of the best things about children’s minds are their vivid imaginations – all that fearless creativity! A recent study by Stanford University (2) has shown that being outdoors can boost this creativity, improve a child’s attention span and enhance their performance on mental tasks.

Stress reduction

Stress is something we might typically associate with adulthood but there have been increasing reports of rising stress levels in children too. Research has shown (3) that being outdoors can help children reduce these feelings of anxiety, with stress hormones and blood pressure both found to fall after exposure to nature.

Building communication skills

Outdoor play provides the opportunity for children to practice valuable communication skills and understand the importance of teamwork; they are able to share ideas and knowledge, listen to their peers, take and give direction and become more understanding of others’ needs.

Germolene Antiseptic Cream is there for you and your family as a first-aid treatment. Germolene is a dual action treatment that works as an antiseptic, local anaesthetic and helps to soften the skin. The non-greasy, water-based cream also helps prevent secondary infection from minor cuts or grazes, burns or scalds, as well as blisters, stings and insect bites. A reliable first aid treatment for over 90 years, Germolene is suitable for the whole family – and is available from just £1.79 for 30g from Boots. Contains phenol and chlorhexidine gluconate.

*Always read the label.

WIN – Germolene’s Big Back to School Competition

Germolene Antiseptic Cream is working with The Wild Network charity as part of a campaign called ‘Celebrating Outdoor Play Everyday’. To celebrate this campaign, and get the whole family outside, Germolene is offering six lucky Mumsnetters Toys R Us outdoor family games vouchers worth £125.

What’s more, those who enter can also nominate a primary school of their choice to be in with the chance of winning one of two bespoke outdoor play equipment sets worth up to £5,000 each.



Enter for your chance to win

Source: Win bespoke play equipment for your child’s primary school